Great defense in basketball forces opponents to take tough shots.

The Provo girls basketball team did a pretty good job in that area in Monday’s 5A state first round game at Salt Lake Community College against Viewmont.

The problem for the Bulldogs, however, was that they couldn’t take advantage of the Viking misses.

Viewmont pulled down 21 offensive rebounds, giving the Vikings a lot more opportunities. Although Provo hung tough until late in the fourth quarter, in the end Viewmont pulled away to get the 51-41 victory and eliminate the Bulldogs.

“Our boxing out was horrible,” Provo head coach Amanda Barker said. “I believe free throws, defense and boxing out wins games and we didn’t do two of those three things. We talked about it at every timeout but they still got so many second chances.”

Even with all the errors, the Bulldogs got a big 3-pointer from junior Lavender Briggs to make the score 42-39 midway through the fourth quarter. Provo got a couple of defensive stops and had chances to get closer, but couldn’t get the ball to go in.

The turning point of the game came late in the second quarter when the Bulldogs had built a 26-20 lead.

The seasoned Vikings didn’t panic but calmly hit a couple of big 3-pointers to erase the deficit. The two teams ended up tied at halftime and Provo never regained its earlier form.

“We played great basketball in the first half but looked tired in the second half,” Barker said. “They didn’t do anything fancy. They are a good team and consistently made us play defense.”

Briggs led all scorers with 28 points but 20 of those came before the break and she left a number of shots short in the final 16 minutes of play.

“Her legs weren’t there,” Barker said. “We ran set plays to get her open but the shots weren’t falling and we weren’t getting second chances.”

Viewmont got 19 points from Melissa Sorensen and 18 from Mercedes Staples.

Even though the season came to an end for Provo, Barker said she’s proud of what the team accomplished in 2017-18.

“We had a fantastic season,” she said. “It’s a big job to welcome a new player and develop a new system. They had to buy in to a new vision and a new staff. It took some time, but when it came together, we started playing great team basketball. We were region champs, something that hasn’t happened at Provo in I don’t know how long. We hadn’t been to state in seven years. These kids are pioneers, paving the way for the future.”

Jared is the Sports Editor and BYU football reporter for the Daily Herald.